Abstract Detail

Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics/Flora Courses

Kirchoff, Bruce [1].

Teaching Plant Systematics in a Pan(dem)ic: Asynchronous Lectures, Interactive Assignments, and iNaturalist.

Plant systematics was never intended to be taught online. Unfortunately, I was teaching plant systematics in the spring of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and was forced to move both the lecture and lab online. Fortunately, my class was small, which made the transition to online tractable if not easy. By design the students present most of the plant families in this class, which I concentrate on the history and theory of systematics. By the time the university closed I had finished most of my lectures, and the students were giving their presentations. My remaining lectures were given asynchronously, while the student presented synchronously. An advantage of the asynchronous lectures was that I required the students to turn in their lecture notes, which I graded on a mastery basis. They received full credit if they took reasonable notes, and reduced or no credit if they did not. This was the first time in many years of teaching that I was able to review students' lecture notes, and provide constructive feedback. I reinforced my lecture material by giving short essay questions as open book homework. I counted these questions as part of the final examination, part of which was spread out over the last several weeks of the course. Although grading was time-consuming, it was also rewarding because the students had time to think about the questions and provide better than normal answers. The student presentations went much better than I expected, with the students adapting to the new presentation format (Zoom.com) with seeming ease. Presenting online allowed me to record their presentations and upload them for later use by the students. Plant identification was taught both with the active learning software I developed for this purpose (see linked website) and by requiring the students to find assigned plants and upload their observations to iNaturalist. While my use of iNaturalist was successful, the assignments were incredibly time-consuming to prepare and grade. Use of iNaturalist would not have been possible without assistance from the lab preparatory staff member who was assigned to my course. She did the field work necessary to find plants in flower each week, record iNaturalist observations, and grade the student assignments. Student performance on the synchronous final exam, and overall, was slightly better than expected. Based on my experience, teaching Plant systematics online is more demanding than face-to-face, but can be equally, or perhaps more, effective.

Related Links:
Software for active learning
Video tutorials on how to use Visual Learning-Plant Identification
Paper on active visual learning.
How to add your own images to Visual Learning-Plant Identification
Use of Image Labeler to add image to the IQ programs
How to use Image labeler to add images to Visual Learning-Plant Identification
VL-PI Assignment Templates
iNaturalist Assignment Files
Student Presentations Assignment
Student Presentations Grading Rubric for Online Presentations

1 - Univ Of NC Greensboro, Department Of Biology, Po Box 26170, Greensboro, NC, 27402, United States

Teaching methodology STEMĀ 
active learning
Visual Learning
Open Source Software.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: COL09, Teaching Virtual Plant Systematics and Flora Courses
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Time: 3:30 PM
Number: COL09002
Abstract ID:170
Candidate for Awards:None

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